#9 Improv

When we started our journey together, she was the better actor without question. My training was further in the past, my craft rustier, and, well, I was too lazy to really compete. Except in one area: improvisation.

I joined Taproot’s Improv company and did pretty well for myself. She didn’t do improv at all – it scared her, to be honest. No script, no rehearsal – how could the perfectionist in her know that her choices would always be right?

Fast forward a decade or two, and she decides to go back to school for her MFA. Approaching fifty is the time to re-affirm that one should never stop learning, never stop growing. One of the things she decided to tackle in her own growth was embracing fear, embracing failure, embracing the part of her that said “jump” instead of the part of her that said, “be safe.”

And one step in that direction meant diving into the unscripted world of improv comedy. We both tried out for the improv team. I didn’t make it. She did.

Of course, she wasn’t as good as I was.

By that I mean she was better. A lot better. Spontaneous. Witty. Fearless.

Oh, she failed at times. A lot. Jokes that didn’t work. Choices that didn’t connect. If you know anything about improv, that is how it is done: the only way to get to the golden moments, when everything clicks and you have the audience eating out of your hands – the only way to get there is by trying to go further than you can go. Trying things out, flying without a net, not caring if you fall – because you know that that the gold is in the trying, not in the waiting for it.

And she spent more time in the golden moments than not; which meant the audience spent more time in the golden moments than not. Which means I (her proudest audience member, if I may so claim) spent more time in the golden moments than most.

Dang, she is fun to watch. And an inspiration to follow.

So, if I am ever fearless, not caring if I fall, going further than I can go – well, chances are I’m just trying to emulate her a little.

Gotta say, it’s a good place to be.

{originally posted as part of the countdown to our silver anniversary}

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